9 March 2017
Friends, recently a very good friend of mine, working in a Christian organisation, reported this story from a colleague: She said,
“I’m a signs person. My sign is butterflies. When I need to make a decision, I pray that God will show me a butterfly. And yesterday a butterfly came in through the door with me, so I knew I was doing the right thing.”
The context was her report to my friend that she had split from her husband. I was gob-smacked. But this Christian lady was not embarrassed to reveal her practical theology in action. It raises the question of how we obtain guidance from God about his will for us.
In my Minister’s Letters throughout 2017, I am spending some time unpacking each of the “Values” in St Michael’s “Vision 2020” statement of mission, vision, values and goals.
The second of the 10 listed is that we value:
God’s Word, the Bible, as our ultimate authority and guide
Why do we say this? It’s because Jesus valued the Bible that same way.
Just before the start of his public ministry, when tempted by Satan, Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4). We do not live by some of the words of God. No picking and choosing there. We are to rely on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Jesus teaches that what the Scriptures say, God says. And God does not lie.
Later, the resurrection-denying Sadducees tried to trap Jesus with a tricky hypothetical. We don’t have time to go into the issue. But how did Jesus answer their challenge? Well, he quotes from the Old Testament to prove his particular point. And before that in Matthew 22:29, Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures…”
Error came from ignoring the Scriptures. And it wasn’t simply that the Sadducees were unaware of what the Old Testament said. They just filtered out the bits that didn’t suit.
Paul writes that holy Scripture can make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ and that all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, to equip us thoroughly for every good work (2 Tim 3:15-17).
So the Bible is the best place to obtain guidance from God for the Christian life from start to finish. Of course, it does not mention many things invented later, but since it’s ultimate author is God, he could foresee what challenges were to come for us. And he ensured everything we needed was included in the promises, principles, examples, commands, warnings and above all, in the plan of salvation he unfolded progressively through the Scriptures, till they reached their climax in the coming of Christ.
Our Lent readings with Reg Piper this week took us to the example of the “noble Bereans” in Acts 17:11, who “received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
So if you want guidance, search the Scriptures. And if you want to convince us to do something differently at St Michael’s, show us from the Scriptures.
Warmly in Christ,
P.S. I recommend the following books regarding the Bible…
- On the Bible’s authority and sufficiency… Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung
- On finding God’s will … Guidance and the Voice of God by Phillip Jensen & Tony Payne
- Getting an overview of the Bible: God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts
- Tools for understanding the Bible: Dig Deeper by Nigel Benyon and Andrew Sach
- Help for reading the Bible with a friend: One to One Bible Reading by David Helm